Unless you live under a rock, didn't turn on a television yesterday, or simply don't give a hoot about baseball, you probably heard about Phillip Humber's perfect game yesterday. If not, here's the box score. Notice the team that managed to put exactly ZERO runners on base. Yes, that is my beloved Seattle Mariners. The M's managed to do what only 20 professional baseball lineups have done before them. They put on a masterful display in the art of ineptitude. On April 21, 2012, the Seattle Mariners joined 20 other lineups in history as being 100% incapable of doing what they are getting paid to do. The Mariners' offense is bad. We know this. Hell, I've been waiting for the M's to get no-hit for years, but this was bad.
It was not a pretty sight yesterday evening when I got a Twitter message (yup, I Tweet), saying "Phil humber just perfect gamed your mariners at safeco." At first I was upset. His favorite team just bent my favorite team over a chair and had its way, and I would certainly rub his face in it if the situation were reversed. But one part of his brief, but oh so hurtful, message was the part that reads "YOUR mariners." Since when are they my Mariners? Why do I feel the need to share in their embarrassment? I didn't just strike out 9 times and draw 0 walks against a man who has had reconstructive surgery and has never pitched a complete game, nonetheless a no-hitter. The Seattle Mariners are the ones who screwed up, not me.
I thought about that for a while. How is it that we the people can become so emotionally involved in something that we have almost no control over? Literally nothing I do today is going to help Michael Saunders not suck at hitting baseballs. Literally nothing I do today is going to alter what players the Mariners are going to put on the field tonight. No matter how loud I scream for them to win today, they won't hear me. Yet, it still kills me a little inside every time a man I'll never meet blows a save or strikes out.
It's not just baseball, and it's not just me. Almost every fan of a professional sports team in this world shares my plight. Sometimes it feels like you care more than the people on the field. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been when it seems like I'm a bigger Pacer fan than the head coach. I find myself thinking, over and over, things like "How can you make that call?" "How can you not dive after that ball?" "How can you drop that pass?" "How can you do that to ME?" If you're a true fan, you know that feeling inside of you as your starting Left Tackle misses an "easy" block and you want to jump through the TV and make a play to save your QB. In reality, there are probably 10 people on Earth that I'd try to stop a 300 LB man from pummeling, but when I watch sports, I'm ready to take a bullet for my team. A team I don't play for, full of men I don't know.
I'm not a brain doctor, so I can't even come close to telling you why people choose to let themselves get so attached to something that they aren't a part of. I can tell you that the love people have for their teams, be it the hometown team or one across an ocean, is very real. We know this because of how we feel after a game, whether it was a win or a loss. All the disappointment, anger, depression, and occasional embarrassment being brought on by situations that you can't control is worth it when you get to swell with pride and approval when they win. I don't regret it one bit. It's why we love sports.